Software is everywhere, but the process to create a new software product can be complicated and challenging. That’s why software development best practices are important and can help reduce costs and speed up processes.
Without goals, a software project doesn’t have direction. Projects should start with a clear definition of the planned software’s goals, a discussion of those goals with stakeholders and an evaluation of expectations and risks. Simultaneously, you should be ready for various challenges that can come up, and implement strategies to keep the development process on course.
Best practices aren’t always a revelation of thought. Sometimes they are obvious. But as obvious as they might be, they are often overlooked, and developers need to be reminded of them. These software development best practices are obligatory for all software development projects.
Top five software development best practices
Any software should be created in the most efficient way without unnecessary complexity. Simpler answers are usually more correct, and this thought perfectly meets the needs of the development process. Simplicity coincides with minor coding principles such as Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) or You Aren’t Gonna Need It (YAGNI).
Teamwork is vital for big projects and it’s impossible without a high level of consistency. Code coherence stands for the creation and adherence to a common writing style for all employees who develop software. This will allow managers or other coders to tell who the author of a given fragment is. Yes, when the whole code has the same style, it’s coherent.
Consistency helps a lot because colleagues will be able to test, edit or continue the work of each other. Vice versa, inharmonious projects can confuse your team and slow down the development process. Here are some tools that will help you enforce a single style:
- Editorconfig: A system for the unification of code written with different IDEs,
- ESLint: A highly customizable linter based on node.js,
- HTML Tidy: Another linter for HTML which also finds errors and;
- Stylelint: A linter for CSS with various plugins.
Testing is essential for any product and on any stage. From the very first test run to the final evaluations, you should always test the product.
Thanks to modern approaches and the rise of machine learning, engineers have access to powerful tools such as automated algorithms to run millions of tests each second. Strategic thinking helps when you have to choose a testing type: functional, performance, integration or unit. If you choose the tools and testing types carefully, you can find a host of bugs and others issues that can ideally be fleshed out before you deploy your product. But remember not to only focus on test-driven development, remember about users and their needs.
Unlike physical entities, the software has the potential to be immortal. Nevertheless, this would only be possible with good maintenance including regular updates, more tests and analysis. You’ve probably seen a warning before about an application that isn’t compatible you’re your device. Elaborate maintenance can get rid of these alerts and keep apps compatible with any hardware.
This principle is a bit controversial as not all teams or developers want to waste time on product compatibility with everything. However, you should focus on maintaining fresh code to allow your software to work on new devices. Thus, your product will meet the needs of more customers and help old applications to remain useful.
Apart from the pre-launch evaluation conducted by QA engineers and dedicated software developers, let me suggest you focus on performance analysis post-launch with a continuous profiling tool like Java Flight Recorder. Even the most elaborate code that results in a seemingly perfect match with your client isn’t guaranteed to work properly. There are a number of factors that can affect these results. Ideally, you’d like to have an analytics department to evaluate your numbers, but outsourced specialists always will work.
Methodologies and best practices
Apart from the aforementioned approaches, there are some other software development best practices to consider. Minor principles such as these can help play a role in a successful deployment:
- Agile: This approach can help optimize your work. It is based on several development iterations that involve constant testing and result evaluation,
- Repositories: Platforms such as Git are helpful to track versions, move back to previous iterations, work synchronization, and merging,
- Accuracy over speed: Focus on correct code instead of fast code. Later it will be easier to speed up processes than rewrite everything and;
- Experience sharing: Consider exchanging ideas and results with other developers to get external reviews if your project isn’t confidential.
Finally, let me propose a bit paradoxical statement: you don’t have to blindly follow best practices all the time. Time-proven ideas work fine for traditional processes when developers want to create common software without unique features.
But game-changing apps or innovative projects require fresh thinking. Surely, these software development best practices are fairly obvious and cover the most basic practices, but it’s better to find or build a software development team with a perfect balance between best market approaches and new ideas.